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10 runners, 42 kilometres, 1 city. What can we learn from people who like to run, really (really) far?

Category : News

Publication date : 16/04/2019

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I won’t be the first to draw a parallel between a marathon and other pursuits requiring stamina, determination, guts and resilience. Even if the thought of running 42km falls under your ‘hell no, no way never’ list, I am guessing, there have been times, where you’ve had pick yourself up, dust yourself down and say to yourself (preferably in a reassuring voice): ‘Just keep going. Just put one foot in front of the other. You’ll get there, you’re almost there.’ I know that I have. Be it at work, uni, searching for the right home, in our romantic disasters or simply on a bad day. Whatever stage or situation in life, the courage to carry on ought not to be underestimated. It is something that we at Birdee much value. It’s at the heart of our innovation process. So much so, that 10 of my brave colleagues are embarking on the 43rd Paris Marathon this 14 April. Beyond the clichéd ‘push your limits to the max!’ and its alike, I find out what we can learn about reaching our goals from the 10 runners.

Build progressively and say ‘yes’ to new things

Third time Marathon runner and project manager Thibaut tells me: ‘My first 5km run was in Canada on my year abroad. I then did 10km, then 20. Back then, I was like a ‘yes-man’ saying ‘yes’ to everything to make the most of the experience…I have come a long way since my first 5km’.

Don’t postpone your bucket list

Wendy, a business analyst, who has already accomplished an ambitious mountain-hike in Corsica: ‘A marathon is something I really wanted to do, it was always on my bucket list.’ Tomas, another business analyst also says: ‘it’s always been on my bucket list and the fact that Birdee asked me to take part just pushed me to do it’.

Be prepared/ dedicated

Fabio a keen footballer and analyst says: ‘Sport is my life! When I decided to do the marathon, I did 30km directly to see if I could do it or if had any problems like pain in my legs. I am going to a physiotherapist twice a week to check my posture, my rhythm and how that works with my breathing’. Our youngest marathon runner, an intern developer, Yoann, aged 22, tells me how he has changed his diet and has given up alcohol for over a month: ‘I am looking forward to a cold beer after the marathon, first some water, then a beer!’ Jonathan, a developer-back and regular club-runner, talks about the importance to focus on the present: ‘I go into my own bubble and concentrate on the run… it empties your mind you think only of the run ahead of you.

Or, be spontaneous/opportunistic

Gauthier, Head of Product Strategy and Innovation at Birdee notes: ‘I didn’t train too much as I was on holiday in Ireland for Saint Patrick’s Day which wasn’t really the right moment for training.’ I ask him if he feels prepared- ‘no!’ he responds smiling. ‘I just don’t want to be the last, otherwise- let’s go!

The necessity of support

All participants talked about what they needed to get them to the finish line. Gaël, the director of Birdee, described the effect of the supporting crowd: ‘if you’re not a professional sports-person, it’s not many occasions where you can experience the euphoric cheers of a large crowd.’ Others mentioned needing good music, phoning a loved one en route. Wendy recognises the importance of team-spirit: ‘I’ve been doing track and field since I was 10, but for anything longer than an hour, I hated to run alone so being with other people is what is motivating me.Sylvain, a financial analyst underlines the importance ‘to have fun, get enough sleep’ and above all, think positively.

Invest in yourself and enjoy the journey to the last step

Gaël, parallels running a marathon in terms of self-investment – ‘when you in invest in a project, you spend time on it, you want to see it through to the end.Thibaut describes getting to the end: ‘there is a tension in the last 12kms that’s difficult to describe, you’ve already done so much and yet it could be so easy to abandon it all-at this point it is about mental strength.. You see the city from a different perspective and my goal this time is to enjoy it…

I’ll be happy if running and I can grow old together.” wrote Japanese best-selling author Haruki Murakami in his memoir ‘What I talk about when I talk about running’. I’ll be happy, if like my admirable colleagues at Birdee, I have the courage to keep trying.

With many thanks and well done to: Sylvain BERTIMES, Gauthier BURY, Fabio CLAROS, Tomas COMBLAIN, Maxime DALESSANDRO, Jonathan HANSEN, Wendy LABEYE, Gaël MINON, Thibaut MOREAU, Yoann NYSSEN, Maxime THERASSE.